“This world was never made for one as beautiful as you” Don Maclean – Vincent
“There’s a stake in your fat black heart and the villagers never liked you,” Sylvia Plath – Daddy
“The sky is falling!” Chicken Licken
The worst thing about time travel drama is when it turns into historical starfucking — slutting around the famous dead and giving them exactly what’s coming to them (closure, humiliation, heads up on their assassination). On Saturday, not for the first time in its run, Doctor Who turned into Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure as they went back to the summer of 1890 to screw with the destitute and mentally ill Vincent van Gogh. It was scripted by Richard Curtis and as such was technically astute, shamelessly manipulative and saturated with life-threatening levels of mawk. It started with Amy and Doc visiting Musée d’Orsay (trans: The Parisien Gallery of That Art) where Dr Black, (Bill Nighy, who you’ll remember stinking out the repulsively cynical Christmas cash-in Love, Actually) bombshells that this van Gogh could paint a bit. But they’re all ‘whatevs’ because the Doctor has noticed that there’s an evil face in the window of van Gogh’s painting of a Church. So he and his redhead escort hightail it to the Auvers-sur-Oise countryside of June 1890. The fun, she has just begun.
“John Hannah was too busy purging himself of endless Four Weddings reruns of him reading Auden at the funeral and being THAT NAUSEY CUNT from Sliding Doors by cathartically shouting “BY ACHILLES RINGPIECE!” and the like in Spartacus every week/”
They hook up with Vincent in a cafe. This van Gogh is Scottish – a people thought to possess the appropriate level of soulful angry depression necessary for any depiction of futile tormented genius. Curtis probably requested John Hannah but he was too busy purging himself of endless Four Weddings reruns of him reading Auden at the funeral and being THAT NAUSEY CUNT from Sliding Doors by cathartically shouting “BY ACHILLES RINGPIECE!” and the like in Spartacus every week.
“van Jock wants to put his van Cock in Amy not, as you may imagine, because she wears tiny, tiny skirts and is stunningly beautiful but because of a deep spiritual affinity.”
Vincent van Jock wants to put his van Cock in Amy not, as you may imagine, because she wears tiny, tiny skirts and is stunningly beautiful but because of a deep spiritual affinity they share. He tells Flamy that he sees her sadness – the unspoken connection between depressed gingers is palpable. With that terracotta scarf, citric orangey hair and peppermint pale skin Amy would be a good subject for a van Gogh masterpiece if only they had the time.
But that’s not the issue at hand. Remember evil window face in the painting? It’s a giant invisible birdlike lizard called the Krafayis only van Jock can see. Part chicken, part dinosaur it’s tearing up the villagers and they are naturally blaming van Jock as it is a functional necessity of the script because said script will be making a terrible, moronic and emotionally incontinent parallel between chickenosaurus rex and van Jock a little later on.
“Krafayis is ‘afraid’. van Jock quickly realises that chickenosaurus is just like the frightened villagers who call him a wanker for never paying for his drinks and the children who throw stones at him.”
When the time comes to defeat the chicken lizard it’s through a combination of the Doctor realising it’s blind, a sonic rearview mirror and stabbing it through the tits with an easel. As the chicken expires, the Doctor translates its dying words. It’s “afraid”. van Jock quickly realises that chickenosaurus is just like the frightened villagers who call him a wanker for never paying for his drinks and the children who throw stones at him. OK. There’s your terrible, moronic and emotionally incontinent parallel. Blind, misunderstood and a clumsy representation of human isolation and mental illness? Oh Richard, you spoil us.
“‘Not only the greatest artist’ says Bill “But ONE OF THE GREATEST MEN who ever lived”. And he says it right as Vincent spaffs over Amy’s tights. She is overcome.”
But he’s not done yet – far from it. Curtis has them drag van Jock into the Tardis, back to 2010 and to Musée d’Orsay to show him exactly how celebrated he is in 2010 (to the power chords of Athlete! “La tristesse durera toujours” indeed.) Vincent’s eyes fill with tears. Not enough slush? Here comes more.
Doctor makes Bill Nighy explain just how great van Gogh is as van Jock eavesdrops and masturbates furiously over Amy’s spindly legs. Here comes the money shot. “Not only the greatest artist” says Bill “But ONE OF THE GREATEST MEN who ever lived”. And he says it right as Vincent spaffs over Amy’s tights. She is overcome. Aren’t we all?
Curtis never uses a pipette where he can use a trowel. I’d like to set the record straight. Vincent van Gogh never travelled forward in time to see his genius realised. He sat around the final few months of his life drinking, wanking over prostitutes, self-harming and sleeping in hollow logs before dying like a turd at his own hand, stinking of failure and cat’s piss. I can handle that truth. Can you?
Is this where Doctor Who goes now? Will he travel through cultural history preventing calamity? Who wouldn’t want to do that? I’d go back in time and save Fiona Apple from being raped; maybe make sure Nancy Spungen never meets that no-talent shit John Simon Ritchie; see to it Ocean Colour Scene never form. But writing a show about it? Not so much. The kind of people who were impressed by this are the same people who wet themselves when Shannon and Sayid met up and made out in Lost‘s finale. This is van Gogh fan-fic deftly and intelligently written by possibly the most cynical screenwriter we’ve ever produced.
Richturd Curtis is a writer out of control. There is nothing he won’t cheapen with sentiment – a pathological need exists within him to chocolate box everything. He is on a mission to debase every authentic emotion ever felt by a human. He needs reining in.
And at no point does van Gogh put his cock in Amy. That is his tragedy. Watching this is ours alone.
The verdict on Doctor Who – Vincent and The Doctor: Overbearing yet underwhelming.
Marks out of 10: 5 Imagined: Tuesday, June 08, 2010